Did you know there is a way to print information you see on your computer screen without using paper and ink? The technology uses software that you install on your computer that creates a virtual “PDF” printer that will subsequently convert what you desire to print into an electronic PDF file (Portable Document Format); which can be read by a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat. The PDF file format, is an open standard (publicly available), that was originally created by Adobe Systems. Instead of printing what you desire to physical sheets of paper, you print in essence to a file that can be saved or archived on your computer. I personally have found unlimited uses of this technology from printing online purchase receipts, lengthy web pages, emails, etc. without ever having to turn on my printer. I forgot to mention, with a virtual “PDF” printer there are no paper jams.
There are quite a few PDF Printer software packages available; however, many of them are not free. What’s on my PC? I currently use a “FREE” open source package called PDFCreator. I have found PDFCreator it to be comparable or better than most of the commercial paid versions that I have experienced.
Key Features (as indicated on the website):
- Create PDFs from any program that is able to print
- Security: Encrypt PDFs and protect them from being opened, printed etc.
- Send generated files via eMail
- Create more than just PDFs: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, EPS
- AutoSave files to folders and filenames based on Tags like Username, Computername, Date, Time etc.
- Merge multiple files into one PDF
- Easy Install: Just say what you want and everything is installed
- Terminal Server: PDFCreator also runs on Terminal Servers without problems
- And the best: PDFCreator is free, even for commercial use! It is Open Source and released under the Terms of the GNU General Public License.
The only negative thing that I could find, is that during the installation process you will be opted with installing a toolbar in Internet Explorer or Firefox, which will allow you to conveniently print from those browsers. Personally, I install “no” toolbars in my browsers.
Once you have PDFCreator installed, the PDFCreator printer will show up in your normal listing of printers. When you go to do a print job, all you have to do is select the PDFCreator printer, a dialog box will appear which will give you options to name the file, at which point you click “Save”, select the destination folder, click “OK” and the virtual “pdf” print job will be processed and subsequently will load into your default PDF reader (i.e. Adobe Acrobat, Foxit, etc.) for your review.